Today is Hockey Day in Canada. Not exactly a national holiday but a day that always brings a smile to my face. Every Canadian hockey team is seeing action today, starting with Calgary vs. Winnipeg, which starts in about an hour. I may watch some of it, but my family is coming over and we’re going to be outside, enjoying the mid-winter reprieve from the bitter cold we’ve had lately. At the moment, I have a coffee in my hand, and a blanket over my legs, and I started to think about the romance of winter. And hockey. 😉
Of course, you know one of my major themes is hockey romance, as in, ordinary women meeting and falling in love with professional hockey players. Sports-themed romance in general is nothing new. There are thousands of stories out there about football players, baseball players, basketball, rugby, soccer (or football again, for my readers outside of North America.) and even golf, tennis, and other pros that I just can’t think of right now. Hockey alone has more than I could ever read. Not all of them good, necessarily, but they are plentiful.
What is it about hockey that’s so amazing? I know why I love it. Part of it is ingrained from birth, I’m sure. I did live in Edmonton for several years growing up, during the time of the Oilers’ greatest years, pre- and post-Gretzky. It’s fun being in a hockey city, seeing jerseys in bars and pubs on game nights, being able to go to games (wish I could go to more… any time someone wants to gift me with tickets, or take me to a game, I’m all for it!) but outside of all that, what is it about the game itself?
It’s rules are fairly simple: put more pucks in the net than your opponent. Sounds easy, right? Now do it while balancing on razor-sharp skates, using a stick to guide the puck, while still watching out for and dodging defencemen, then shoot the puck past a goalie into a net 6′ wide by 4′ tall. Piece of cake, right? Oh, also there’s basically no out of bounds, so except for penalties or off-side calls, play doesn’t stop, so you get short breaks between each 45-second (sometimes longer) shift and still have to be faster, stronger, and have a better shot than the other guys. No problem.
I learned to skate at a very young age, and while it is like riding a bike, in that you never forget how, I certainly never had the skills or talent to do more than skate laps around a rink. So I’m amazed every time I watch a game. They are so fast, all of them. Their stamina is impressive, and having the hockey sense to pass a puck, accept a pass, or keep moving forward with the opponents breathing down your neck, it’s all so incredible to me. I feel the same about a lot of sports and athletes. They all make it look so easy, don’t they? It’s just something they do, like I breathe, or write.
And of course, what’s not to love about the season? There’s nothing like that first wide-spread snowfall, when the snow covers everything and after the sun goes down, the air takes on this sort of soft, pink hue, and the world is hushed. Winter was made for introverts and homebodies, like myself. Winter means it’s OK to bundle up in a dozen blankets and stay in by the fire with a good book and a cup of tea. Now, add in a hockey game with your favorite team. I love it! You have no idea how many stories I’ve written or plotted or edited while watching hockey. Or maybe you do. 😉 It must be pretty obvious with the subject matter I write.
I don’t know if I’m expressing myself very well. I’m not going to lie and say I love winter all day, every day. The days when I have to shovel two feet of snow from my front and back walks, I don’t love. I don’t like having to start my car twenty minutes before I can leave work because it’s so bloody cold, the car just won’t run, and I certainly don’t enjoy spending an extra half hour or more on my morning or afternoon commutes because the roads are in such rough shape. But those few days in the winter, when I’m not working, when I’m watching the snow fall, while warm inside with a cup of coffee, and I can watch a good hockey game, those days, I love. And to me, that’s romantic.
Take care, and happy reading!